Time travel just became possible, at least for hockey fans. Toss NHL 2K9 into any console system and you'll immediately feel transported back to 2006, which seems to have been the last year that any significant improvements were made to this hockey series. This so-so look at the Canadian national pastime actually turns away from realism to embrace a more old-time arcade-hockey feel with streamlined controls and single-minded AI. Although the Nintendo Wii version of the game mixes things up a bit with a natural control system that uses both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, this addition doesn't make the action on the ice feeling any more like real hockey. The game presents you with a good challenge, though it seems like what remains of the realistic NHL 2K games of the past is being slowly erased.

Although this is the first NHL 2K game to be released for the Wii, the modes of play are almost identical to those offered in 2007 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 2. The only big addition this year is Zamboni races between periods, a goofy novelty that you'll likely try once and then forget that it exists. Special games now include being able to play three-on-three in a pint-size minirink, four-on-four pond hockey, and a solo shootout. However, none of these options are more than moderately diverting. The minirink is so small that games are nonstop breakaways from one end to the other, and the pond is simply a bland sheet of outdoor ice surrounded by snowbanks and invisible glass that still clangs every time you shoot the puck high and wide. Ahh, nothing says "outdoor hockey" like the synthetic bang of Plexiglas.

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